After spending years building success as the frontman for Homemade Wine (resulting in a trip to perform at Bonnaroo 2015), singer/songwriter Ryan Sheley is embarking on a new solo venture. Sheley seeks to explore a more intimate side of music, a more pure expression of himself through scaled-down, acoustic songwriting. The style is perfectly suited for a man who has familiarized himself to fans across the country through tireless touring and personal interactions.
Previously sharing a house with his former band whose roster included his own brother, leaving the project was not a decision Sheley made lightly. But with a relentless drive seldom seen in the Knoxville music scene, Sheley has hit the ground running with all-new original music, losing little steam to transitional downtime.
Already working on his solo debut, Sheley recently returned from a Maryland studio, playing a number of shows along the way. He tells that his songwriting process is now completely unencumbered by formula or an established or sought-after sound, incorporating elements of bluegrass, punk, country and folk with subject matter that hits closer to home. For his forthcoming record titled “Breathitt County Morning Light,” which is anticipated for an autumn release, Sheley’s opening shot will explore his own family history and background.
“It’s gonna be more about whatever I feel. That’s going to be my primary focus. If I feel it, if I wrote it that way, that’s how I’m going to put it out. I want albums to be snapshots in time.” Says Sheley.
Leading up to the release, Sheley will take his act on a full U.S. tour. He says that the six-week roundtrip to the West Coast will be a spiritual journey in a sense as he makes the drive alone and focuses on meeting new people. Not all of the listeners he encounters will be unacquainted, however, since the tour will be composed almost exclusively of house concerts, festivals, and intimate rooms. Scheduling such a quantity of shows where he is literally welcomed into people’s homes and businesses speaks to the connections Sheley has made.
“That’s the most exciting thing about playing music to me — meeting people,” says Sheley. “The music industry is truly who you know. That’s why I’ve never understood why people would be (expletive) or egotistical about it. It does you no good. Get up there and be yourself, and people usually respond to it. That’s success to me, just having people respond in a meaningful way.”